Blessings

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A rascal of a fish at Selby Gardens, Canon Eos

I’ve been reading a book called My Grandfathers’ Blessings by Rachel Naomi Remen. Every time I pick it up and read even a few pages, my eyes well up with tears. (I had to stop reading it in public because it just got too embarrassing.) This book moves me because it is kind. It’s like that moment when you feel blue and someone says something unbearably nice and you just break down. When someone blesses you.

What is a blessing?

When I was in Thailand a few years ago, Matt and I discovered a cultural exchange called “Monk Chat” at a temple in Chiang Mai. It gave foreigners an opportunity to talk to monks about monastic life, Buddhism and Thai culture, while giving these young men a chance to practice their english and learn about us.

We asked one of the monks about meditation and he said, “It is about training the mind to be skilled in thought. When you are on the bus staring at the back of someone’s head, you can use that time to worry about money or all of the things you need to do, or you can use that time to bless the people around you. This is skilled thought. Thought that serves others.”

Since then, I’ve tried this trick on the bus and I noticed that it did two important things:
1. You get out of your head long enough to be present and actually see the people around you
2. It stirs a compassion in you for those same people. It’s as if the act of blessing is what cultivates compassion and not the other way around. You don’t feel compassionate so you bless, you bless so that you are filled with compassion.

I find that a lot of things work this way. For example, there is a romantic misconception that painters are struck with inspiration and dart to the canvas to create their masterpiece. Usually this is not how it happens, and if you wait until you are inspired to paint, you might never do it! But if you simply begin moving the brush around, dipping into the colors, you find inspiration (and even joy) in the process and want to continue.

The same goes for meditation. If you wait until you feel peaceful enough to meditate, you might wait a lifetime. But if you simply stop and sit (out of a commitment to the practice) you begin to find that peaceful place within.

Maybe we have it backwards. All of this waiting to feel ready, inspired, strong enough, smart enough. Maybe the writing of the book is in the end what will make us feel ready to write the book, and the blessing of others will make us feel blessed ourselves.

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Hi, I’m Andrea

On this blog you’ll be learning with me how to use our voices, share our creative superpowers and live life in full color.

As an artist, photographer, life coach + mentor, I’m redefining what it means to be a SUPERHERO — ‘cause in my world, it’s got nothing to do with capes, spandex or sidekicks and everything to do with tenderness, intuition & baby steps of bravery.

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14 Comments

  1. azura

    i enjoyed reading this post. i am always waiting to be in the right mood to start writing. does it ever come out of the blue? almost never. i usually start enjoying writing after ive sat myself at my desk and started drafting. then i groaning, actually i like this, i really should have started sooner.

  2. Mabelle

    So true! The creative process it’s so spontaneous and uplifting. This morning I feel so motivated to grab my new watercolors and paint my heart out! Thank you for your post (I always enjoy so much your writings!).

  3. Georgy

    It’s been a while since I’ve told you how much you brighten my days. I’m going to look for the book you mention – it sounds wonderful.
    Your story about blessing others around you reminded me of a game I play. I pretend I am God’s secret agent. When i see people – inside myself I think “I Love You.” The thing is – I started this process so many years ago – I can hardly remember – in time the practise (which is a silent one) starts to bubble out and you begin to see marvelous things about people and honest compliments burst out of your mouth . . . (it turns out to be very fine & tons of fun.)
    So, here’s the other thing. I have often read that “God lives in the praise of His people.” I have come to believe that it is true – but not in any kind of religious way – just like you said – when you are down and someone says something nice – it’s entirely powerful & healing (or blessing.)
    Well, I didn’t mean to write you a book.
    I did mean to thank you for sharing with me.
    Happy New Year!
    Georgy

  4. Allison

    So many times you’ve written just what I’ve needed to read. Thank you.

  5. Jennifer

    I agree with Allison! And I think sometimes that you don’t even realize you need to read something until you actually do.
    I actually think it’s kind of hard sometimes to live in a world where people want to tear you down just for the sport of it or because it makes them feel better in some sick perverse way, but I just couldn’t ever do that. I know firsthand hand how important it is to hear good things as opposed to bad things…
    Keep up the good work Andrea. I think we all enjoy you so much…

  6. Julia

    Some of the most profound thoughts, I have ever seen put into words, I have found in great books, or heard in the innocent comments of children. FYI: Rachel Naomi Remen is a wonderful author and a truly inspirational woman. Check out her other books too. I reccomend also “Kitchen Table Wisdom” by her, to read as well…I really enjoyed reading your post today. I guess it’s all about staying in the present moment, and just trying to put out love, and good thoughts as often, and as much, as we all can…Right?? I truly believe that thoughts are tangible things. You know? like when your negative thoughts make you feel physically bad? Or when good and postive thoughts make you feel that warm inner Glow?? My wish for you, and all, in this upcoming year, is to try to “feel more”, “worry less”, let the small “stuff” go, and try to live each day in the present moment as if it was our last day on earth. I think the world would be so much better of a place if we could all just try to get into that mind-set. HAPPY 2004 TO ALL!!!!

  7. cooper

    Superhero ~ You are just that! Blessings to you and those you love.
    Can I get permission to post this at another site? It is an answer to a question we all have been discussing. I would appreciate sharing it with them.

  8. Jenn

    andrea,
    thank you for all the blessings you have passed to all of your readers. it’s been wonderful having the continous reminders to stop, breathe and be present in our lives. you are a blessing to me and my life.
    here is what my calendar says today, I hope it helps everyone put a close to 2003. “I loved living this year, and now I bless it with love and release it. Tomorrow is the start of a brand-new year.
    happy new year.

  9. penelope

    Well said, Grasshoppa!

  10. mademoiselle a.

    Thank you for this book idea – it looks like a very good read! Usually, when I see an ambulance rush by, I say/mutter a blessing for health, likewise with accident scenes. I do say them too when I see people doing nice things to others or when I see people that warm my heart…there are many occasions and far more people who deserve a blessing 🙂
    In Jewish practice, blessings are a fixed part of daily life, by the way, and many nice blessings there are on simple and heavy occasions. It fills your heart and brightens your day…but most of all, it is a good deed and one’s contribution to a happier life for us all.

  11. jill

    Well said, and makes me think. That is so me… waiting, waiting to “get,” “be,” “receive.” Hmmmmm…
    Thanks!

  12. moe

    you just made my day…
    thanks.
    moe ross

  13. paisley

    wonderful truth

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